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Comparative Advantage, Relative Wages, and the Accumulation of Human Capital

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  • Coen N. Teulings

Abstract

I apply Ricardo’s principle of comparative advantage to a theory of factor substitutability in a model with a continuum of worker and job types. Highly skilled workers have a comparative advantage in complex jobs. The model satisfies the distance‐dependent elasticity of substitution (DIDES) characteristic: substitutability between types declines with their skill distance. I analyze changes in relative wages due to human capital accumulation. The concept of a complexity dispersion parameter or compression elasticity is introduced. Empirical studies suggest its value to be equal to two: a 1 percent increase in the stock of human capital reduces the Mincerian return by 2 percent. See the publication in Journal of Political Economy , 2005, 113(2), 425-461.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/427467
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 113 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 425-461

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:113:y:2005:i:2:p:425-454

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References

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  1. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  2. Robert Dur & Coen Teulings, 2003. "Are education subsides an efficient redistributive device?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19493, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Katz, Lawrence F & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78, February.
  4. Coen Teulings & Thijs van Rens, 2008. "Education, Growth, and Income Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 89-104, February.
  5. Sattinger, Michael, 1975. "Comparative Advantage and the Distributions of Earnings and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 455-68, May.
  6. Pieter A. Gautier, 2001. "The Right Man for the Job," CESifo Working Paper Series 540, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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